Introducing the 2011 Harvest Olive Oils

There was a flurry of activity in our Mail Order warehouse last week when we received this spring’s first batch of imported goods. This was a special shipment: it contained our first bottles of 2011 harvest olive oils.

For the last year, we’ve been selling and enjoying 2010 harvest olive oils. By now, about eighteen months since those oils were pressed, many of them have given up some of the sparkle, the vibrancy of their youth. They have settled into a middle aged respectability: they are quieter, milder, less assertive. They’re still very good oils, and will be for a good many months to come, but in settling into comfortable maturity they’ve abandoned some of the brasher ideals of their adolescence.

Not so with the new oils that just arrived. The 2011 harvest, picked and pressed between October to December of last year, are fresh, bright. After a few months spent settling down from their rambunctious just-pressed olio nuovo teenage years, a quick bottling, and then a long cruise across the Atlantic, these oils are ready to step out into the world, to find their place, to make a splash.

Like wines, estate olive oils vary from year to year; unlike wines, oils do not get better with age. These new oils are at their most flavorful now, and to me, tasting them for the first time is a little like biting into the first farmer’s market peach of the summer: you mostly know what to expect, but if you’re lucky, it’s even better than you remember.

A few of the highlights for me so far:

  • Elegant Savignola Paolina is light and silky with a with a pleasant mild bitterness and an unexpected bite of pepper on the finish, like a shy hello.
  • Brazen Castello di Cacchiano erupts into my mouth with a burst of punchy arugula flavor, and builds to a pungent finish that tickles my throat long after I’ve swallowed. The most intense oil I’ve tried so far this year.
  • Convivial La Spineta smells to me like a caprese salad, and makes me impatient for tomato season.

    But don’t take my word for it. These oils – and dozens more – are available to taste at Zingerman’s Deli now.